[Ads-l] "lap-dog": modern sense not in OED?

Joel Berson berson at ATT.NET
Fri Dec 4 20:07:41 UTC 2015

Prompted by "spaniel" as "lap-dog" ...

A modern sense of "lapdog" is "a flattering subservient, eager sycophant".  From UrbanDictionary, although the prominent favorite there is "brown noser" (etc.).

The OED has merely one definition, "A small dog, such as is allowed to lie in a lady's lap."  While an attrib. sense is listed also, it is not given any additional definition and there is no quotation (with the possible exception of the 1838 copied below) that seems to fit the modern sense.

"1838   E. Bulwer-Lytton Alice II. vi. iii. 224   Had I not fed his lap-dog vanity..you would be Caroline Merton still."  If in context this is a fawning lap-dog, I think it is sufficiently beyond "a small dog" that it deserves a separate definition, along with other such quotations.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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